Since June 2011, Republican Rob McKenna has raised more money than Democrat Jay Inslee for the 2012 governor's race.

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WASHINGTON — Since U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Rob McKenna began fundraising last June for their governor’s race, Republican McKenna has hauled in $560,000 more — about 18 percent — than his Democratic rival.

That’s despite the fact that the state Democratic Party has pumped $365,000 in cash into Inslee’s campaign and Inslee himself transferred an additional $586,000 in earlier donations made to his congressional campaign account.

McKenna has had more donors and more donors giving larger sums than Inslee. And he held on to his donations edge even after suspending fundraising in December while the state Legislature was in session, as required by state law. The law applies to state office holders, so it doesn’t affect Inslee.

The tally can’t be good news for Inslee, who also is trailing McKenna in several recent polls in what is expected to be one of the nation’s most expensive gubernatorial races this year.

Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign manager, called the fundraising gap a direct reflection of voter enthusiasm.

“Congressman Inslee simply has not provided a reason to vote for him, whereas Rob McKenna has,” Pepple said. “Rob McKenna is providing a vision for Washington state.”

Jaime Smith, Inslee’s campaign spokeswoman, said McKenna had the advantage of name familiarity as a two-term incumbent in a statewide office. Inslee, of Bainbridge Island, has represented the 1st Congressional District since 1999, although he made an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1996.

“As relative new kid on the block, (Inslee’s) fundraising shows an encouraging level of support and we have every confidence that support will continue to grow,” Smith said.

Smith said donors who agreed to let Inslee switch their federal contributions to the governor’s race showed the loyalty of their support. The transferred donations averaged $180, she said.

Inslee has taken in $3.1 million in cash through December. Eighty-three percent of that has come from individuals, including $126,000 from small donations of $25 or less. The rest came from political-action committees, unions, corporations, party committees and other outside groups, according to a Seattle Times analysis.

McKenna has received $3.67 million in cash. Just $50,000 of that came in donations of $25 or less. But money from individuals made up a slightly higher share, 85 percent, of McKenna’s total than Inslee’s.

Both individuals and groups were able to give up to $1,600 for each primary and general election for the governor’s race during the period covered in the campaign-finance reports. (The limit rose to $1,800 on Friday.) McKenna had 720 donors who gave the maximum, compared to 300 for Inslee.

By far the largest cash infusion to Inslee’s campaign has come from the Washington State Democratic Central Committee. The party gave $200,000 in July and followed it with three additional five-digit contributions totaling $365,000. In turn, top donors to the state Democratic Party have been labor groups, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Washington Education Association and the Service Employees International Union.

McKenna has drawn heavy support from business groups, including auto dealerships, builders and contractors, insurers, drug companies and trade groups.

McKenna has received no cash yet from the state Republican Party. But Pepple said the money should flow in earnest after the August primary election. Pepple also said he expects outside groups to spend millions on independent campaigns supporting or opposing the candidates.

Under Washington’s campaign-contribution rules, state and local party committees combined can give nearly $5 million each to McKenna and Inslee. There is no limit on independent spending by outside groups.

Seattle Times staff reporter Justin Mayo contributed to this report.

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